Queenstown, New Zealand (18 March 2013): Some of the world's top mountain biking stars are heading to Queenstown this week to test their skills at the resort's annual Bike Festival.
The 10-day Queenstown Bike Festival (22 March - 1 April 2013) features more than 25 events ranging from recreational rides, social events and the Tour de Wakatipu to the extreme downhill races and freestyle events that have attracted the sport's big names to the lake and alpine resort.
Now accredited as a Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour Silver Event, the spectacular downtown Slopestyle (28 March) has attracted a virtual 'who's who' of international freeriders all primed to show their big tricks off to thousands of spectators. The line-up includes:
- Cam McCaul (US) – Described as a living legend, 3rd place at Red Bull Joyride 2012
- Kurt Sorge (Canada) - Made his place in mountain bike history this year by winning Red Bull Rampage 2012
- Sam Pilgrim (Great Britain) - Five 1st place results in the 2012 season
- Sam Dueck (Canada) - Hyper extended tricks and a crowd favourite from last year's event
- Benny Phillips (Australia) - Winner of last year's event and on the comeback from injury
- Chad Kagy (US) - 2nd place finish at the 2011 Dew Tour first stop and bronze medallist at X Games in Big Air
- Daiki Takahashi (Japan) - 1st Place Freeride Jam Japan
- Conor MacFarlane (NZ) - 2nd Place Teva Slopestyle 2012
- Kelly McGarry (NZ) - 5th Place Teva Slopestyle 2012
A new event, the Mega Avalanche (31 March), has also attracted international entries including French Commencal team riders Remy Absalon and Nicolas Quere, and World Cup downhiller and current female Canadian National Champion Casey Brown. Based on the famous 'Megavalanche' in the French Alps, the race is expected to test even the world's best downhillers as they hurtle down a course on Queenstown's iconic Remarkables mountain range.
The Dirtmasters Downhill is back on 27 March and names to watch include local star and 2010 UCI Oceania Champion Reon Boe, and Christchurch's Cameron Cole, 2011 National Downhill Champion and 7th overall in the 2011 World Cup. Set to International Cycling Union (UCI) standards, the course down Bob's Peak is not for the fainthearted - riders will have to contend with speed, drops, air and technical challenges but will be rewarded with panoramic lake and mountain views along the way. Spectators can also get in on the action by enjoying the festive atmosphere at the downtown finish line and cheering on the competitors as they drop down the Brecon St stairs.
Destination Queenstown Chairman Mark Quickfall says that Queenstown has undergone a biking revolution in the past couple of years and the addition of the Bike Festival has given both riders and spectators more great reasons to visit in autumn and extend their stay over the Easter break.
"With over 5,000 entrants and attendees at the 2012 festival bringing in an estimated $2 million to the local economy, the Queenstown Bike Festival has become a key autumn event on our calendar.
"It doesn't matter whether you're a novice or advanced, like fat or skinny tyres, or like watching the pros test their skills - this is about celebrating all things biking and getting the chance to explore some of our spectacular alpine scenery."
With every genre of biking covered including 110km of cross country trails, heli-biking, gondola-accessed downhill trails, a jump park, and world-class road rides, Queenstown is gaining a reputation as a world-class biking destination for people of all ages and abilities.
The newly released Lonely Planet New Zealand Travel Guide has singled out mountain biking in Queenstown as one of its top 12 new favourite New Zealand recommendations, mentioning that "since the opening of the Queenstown Bike Park, the region is now firmly established as an international focus for the sport."